Following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the US Navy assisted with search, rescue and reconnaissance missions using P-8A Poseidon aircraft fitted with a search and rescue (SAR) kit capability, the development of which was led by Australia.
Group Captain Debbie Richardson, AIR 7000 Phase 2B program director, explained how Australia initiated and funded this capability enhancement in an article published by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) on October 23.
“A key asset that enables the Royal Australian Air Force to meet its SAR requirements is the maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response capability currently provided by the AP-3C Orion,” said GPCAPT Richardson.
“As the P-8A Poseidon will partially replace this capability, we based the P-8A’s SAR requirements on actual search and rescue operation tasks undertaken by the AP-3C Orion.”
Australia proposed that the P-8A should be capable of carrying five air-droppable stores, each containing survival equipment and supplies for up to 20 people.
Australia’s participation in a cooperative program with the US Navy for the joint purchase, support and further development of the maritime patrol aircraft provided an opportunity for Australia to lead the development of the SAR capability for the platform.
Following the disappearance of flight MH370 in March 2014, the US Navy determined that the integration of such a capability on the P-8A was a high priority.